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By Maureen Lee Lenker
March 10, 2021 at 11:00 AM EST
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TCM is playing it cool, boy, real cool.

The network announced Wednesday that its annual TCM Classic Film Festival — virtual for the second year in a row, after pivoting in 2020 to accommodate COVID-19 precautions — will kick off with a 60th-anniversary screening of West Side Story and exclusive new interviews with original cast members Russ Tamblyn, Rita Moreno, and George Chakiris.

The latter two actors won Oscars for their performances in the 1961 classic.

This year's festival will be presented Thursday, May 6, through Sunday, May 9. It will air on the Turner Classic Movies network and, for the first time, within the Classics Curated by TCM Hub on HBO Max.

The West Side Story reunion opening the festival will air simultaneously on TCM and HBO Max on May 6 at 8 p.m. ET.

"We're thrilled to expand this year's virtual festival across two platforms — linear and streaming," said Pola Changnon, head of TCM, in a statement. "Our approach gives fans even more movies, stars, and unique presentations to choose from. The breadth of this festival will offer interest for every kind of classic movie fan — whether they're new to this world or card-carrying cinephiles!"

Some of the in-person festival's most beloved segments, including film discussions, interviews, panels, unique presentations, and rarely seen behind-the-scenes footage, will be available on the Classics Curated by TCM Hub. There will also be virtual takes on festival series like "Discoveries" and the always popular artist tributes.

Other announced guests include Mira Nair and Rob Reiner, who will reflect on their personal memories of their most seminal films as part of a focus on iconic directors. Danny Glover and Ali MacGraw will also be honored and participate in exclusive conversations looking back on their legacies.

Since the demise of the TCM and Criterion streaming platform FilmStruck in 2018, the Classics Curated by TCM Hub on HBO Max is now the most significant collection of films made before 1980 offered on any streaming platform beyond the Criterion Channel. Hosting the festival simultaneously on the platform marks a new and deeper investment in the relationship between classic cinema and HBO Max on the part of TCM and its parent company, Warner Media.

More talent and special events are still to be announced.

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